Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation & Telecommunication (TEATT), Omar Ottley says the Government of Sint Maarten will have "zero tolerance" for any business that refuses to adhere to the ministerial decree mandating the reduction of gas prices.
Inspectors from the Ministry of TEATT were dispatched Monday to several gasoline stations to investigate allegations that at least three were either refusing to sell gasoline or selling at the mandated new price.
On Monday evening, Ottley issued a brief statement, cautioning the gasoline station operators against violating the decree and encouraging them to offer the service at the prescribed prices.
News of the alleged infractions by the gas stations spread quickly. However, Ottley says the TEATT Inspectors reported that all gas stations were compliant at the time of inspection.
The government had initially delayed increasing gasoline prices in Sint Maarten for several months despite the global fuel spike to offer some relief to residents at the pump. The delay was necessary to protect the already fragile economy that is still reeling from the ripple effects of the global pandemic COVID-19.
Ottley said balancing fuel prices is a delicate matter, as we must consider businesses who sell and the consumer. Historically Sint Maarten's lack of sufficient fuel storage affects its ability to adapt swiftly to global changes in fuel prices. When the global market shows a drop in fuel price, Sint Maarten often must use the fuel it purchased when prices were high before it could buy and resell at the new and lower world market prices.
Ottley said businesses must adhere to the Monday, August 15 decree mandating fuel price reduction in Dutch Sint Maarten. "We have the rule of law which guides our action, and we must remain compliant. It is indeed a challenging time for everyone concerned. Still, the Ministry of TEATT cannot allow ignorance to become the deciding factor for aggrieved business operators," said Ottley.